National

Kings’ Spat Puts Finances in the Spotlight

[The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

From left to right, Martin Luther King III, Dexter King, the late Yolanda King and Bernice King, stand next to a crypt dedicated to their parents, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in 2006. (WILFRED HAREWOOD/AP)
From left to right, Martin Luther King III, Dexter King, the late Yolanda King and Bernice King, stand next to a crypt dedicated to their parents, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in 2006. (WILFRED HAREWOOD/AP)

Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, his sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter Scott King say they urgently need to sell the Nobel medal to raise money to perpetuate his legacy.

The proposed sale, which has landed the brothers in a court battle with their sister, Bernice King, has — not for the first time — put the focus squarely on the finances of the three surviving King children and the institutions they control.

Much of that information is shielded from public view. But federal tax records show that Dexter King has derived by far the greatest income from the nonprofit side of their collective enterprise, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Although he has lived in California since 2000, Dexter King was paid by the Atlanta nonprofit through at least 2012, with his salary and benefits averaging a little more than $175,000 a year. He stepped down as president and CEO in 2010 but remained as chairman. He has drawn more than $400,000 in severance pay since then.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined IRS Form 990s provided by the King Center covering the years 1996 to 2012. They show that Dexter King, who held a variety of titles, was the only member of the family to get paid, in some form, every year. His total compensation since 1996, including perks and benefits, totaled about $3 million.

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